Memoir reveals the bizarre side of Thai life
It’s not every day that you find yourself surrounded by gun-wielding soldiers with your undies around your ankles during a drug bust in the hills of northern Thailand … but that’s exactly what happened when Queensland songwriter Ange Takats took up a job as a foreign correspondent in Bangkok.
The former Sydney girl, who now calls the Sunshine Coast home, has written a book about her Southeast Asian adventures titled The Buffalo Funeral: Soundbites from a Songbird in Siam and recently featured on Richard Fidler’s ABC Conversations program.
“I covered some bizarre stories during my two years in Thailand. One of my first assignments was to report on a funeral for a water buffalo. I arrived with my cameraman to see this big dead beast hanging inside a shed, with fairy lights wrapped around his horns, and flowers stuffed into his ears,” Ange said.
“Then there was the Thai boob job story. We’d gone to film a woman who claimed to be able to make breasts bigger by rubbing them with Tiger Balm. Half way through the shoot she decided she wanted to give me a freebie!” she said. The book is a leap of faith for the songwriter, who penned most of the chapters in between her busy touring schedule in 2010.
“I love writing lyrics but there’s only so much you can say in a four minute song. This book has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – a way of paying tribute to the cameramen, musicians and beautiful souls who shared life with me during my two years in Thailand,” she said.
Ange was 22 years old when she left the comfort of life in Sydney to work in the cut-throat, male-dominated, international media. From heroin addicts in Hanoi, to AIDS patients in Bangkok – the stories Ange covered overseas had a huge impact on her.
“I was one of the few foreign journalists granted access to Burmese Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi when she was released from house arrest in 2002. It was a monumental day – one of the most intense and stressful breaking news stories that I’ve covered,” Ange said.
Since releasing her debut album, Aniseed Tea, in 2009 – Ange has spent the past two years performing at some of the country’s biggest music festivals and building a steady following of fans.
“There’s a strong link between Thailand and my career as a musician because it was in Bangkok that I got offered my first paid gig. Many of the songs on Aniseed Tea were inspired by that time and I suppose this book is my way of sharing the stories behind those songs,” Ange said.
“Travel, romance and music plus a fascinating behind the scenes look at a foreign news bureau, The Buffalo Funeral is a page turning adventure. Ange writes with honesty, humour and an intimacy that makes you feel as though you've always been best friends” – Mary-Lou Stephens, ABC Radio
''The Buffalo Funeral is an easy to read absorbing account of a young woman’s journey into the male orientated world of the media in Thailand. The writing is fresh, upbeat and the story flows. A very enjoyable read'' – Maxine Ryan, Berkelouw Books